What's the most reliable type of car?
Is a small hatchback more dependable than a luxury saloon? Will an MPV break down more than a sports car? We reveal the classes that are the least, and most, reliable...
There's an old saying that if there’s more kit on a car, there’s more to go wrong, but does this apply to different classes of cars?
To find out, we've examined data on more than 18,200 of cars supplied by owners who took part in our 2018 What Car? Reliability Survey and split it out into 12 different car classes.
At a glance, the old adage could be true – the reliability rating for large and luxury saloons and SUVs is around 10% lower than those for city cars and small SUVs. However, electric cars proved the least reliable of all, so there could be more to it than that.
Read on to find out which are the most – and least – dependable car classes.
12. Electric cars
Reliability rating 84.2%
It's a real tale of two halves when it comes to electric cars – the previous-generation Nissan Leaf has an almost impeccable reliability record with a score of 99.7% and just 3% of cars suffering faults concerning the bodywork.
In contrast the Tesla Model S scored a dismal 50.9%, with owners telling us their cars had issues with bodywork, electrics suspension and interior trim.
These polar opposite performances by different models put EVs at the bottom of the table for dependability.
11. Large SUVs
Reliability rating 86.5%
The previous version of Toyota's RAV4 was the best performing large SUV with a score of 99.6%. Only 4% of owners reported a problem and the only area concerned was engine electrics.
At the other end of the spectrum, Ford's Edge let the side down with 54% of cars suffering a fault. Bodywork was the most frequently cited problem area, followed by air-con (21%) and non-engine electrics.
10. Luxury SUVs
Reliability rating 87.6%
The 2013-2018 BMW X5 was the most dependable luxury SUV with a score of 98.3%. Only 10% of diesel examples developed a problem, with these split evenly between the engine, fuel system and wheels/tyres.
The full-fat Range Rover didn't fare as well, with around half of owners reporting a fault. Its 67.3% reliability rating reflects the fact that there were lots of non-engine electrical issues and problems with the suspension.
9. Luxury cars
Reliability rating 88.7%
When it comes to some luxury cars, it's best to buy a model that's been on sale for a couple of years as previous-generation cars seem to suffer fewer faults than the latest versions.
The best luxury car for reliability was the 2009-2016 Mercedes E-Class with a score of 92.4%. Non-engine electrics and the battery were the most common complaints.
And the latest Jaguar XF also proved less dependable than the previous version, scoring 81.9% compared with the older model's 91.6%. Again non-engine electrics were the most common problem, this time followed by bodywork and interior trim issues.
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